Category Archives: CERT BLOG

Things an A/E/C firm or owner should know when hiring an estimating consultant firm.

Advice from the Consulting Estimators Round Table

A/E/C  companies and owners need to take into account the scope of need so they hire the right firm for the right project. Some basic criteria should include:

Credentials– is the firm “in business” or someone moonlighting from the kitchen table? Are estimators in the firm certified or validated by industry peers and organizations qualified to hold in significance?

Experience– is the firm an establish member of the industry? Are the firm’s principles qualified by years of estimating for others? Has the business survived by repeat business over a long period of time?

References– how did you get the firm’s name- in a directory, via an associate? Can the firm offer you names and contacts from current clients you know and trust?

Talents – with consulting estimating firms the adage “one size fits all” certainly doesn’t apply. Be sure your consultant is an expert in the field of estimating your project needs. A great estimator in one trade may think he can cover others, but is your project the one he learns the truth on?

Professionalism – is the consultant you are looking to hire a known quantity? Has the consultant held office in a local or national association, are they members of local association, do they teach or train others or do they give back to the industry in other ways?

Rates – consultants earn their money by being more talented and able then their peers and the odds are you’ll save money with a consultant over a full time estimator on many projects. In the United States you could probably find a consultant for as little as $25 per hour, maybe even less for an online service overseas, but this begs the question “am I getting what I pay for?” Why is the rate so low? Can they provide back up for the numbers? Will they be in business in 6 months? A consulting firm with experienced talent, that pays its taxes, insurances and fees has a cost of doing business- they are playing by the rules and the rates they charge are going to reflect that.

Obligation – a consultant can become part of your team and bring an even stronger sense of getting it right to your bidding process than a new employee — simply because the consultant chooses you as much as you choose the consultant. The vested interest in development of a “regular customer” keeps a consulting firm thinking about your best interests.

Services – an employee is paid to perform work on the company’s behalf, a consulting firm is paid to be masters of the estimate and to help your company succeed. In addition to the estimate the consulting firm brings knowledge and advice as part of the package and in the long run this advice may mean more than anything else.

You may have noticed the first letter of the first word in each paragraphs above – when combined – comes out to spell “CERT-PROS” and that is for a reason. The CERT wants to see every consulting estimating firm meet certain baseline standards, provide qualified advice and estimating practice and do all this while maintaining the ethics of true professionals.

A Parting Note From The First Elected CERT President

A Parting Note Fr Fellow CERT Members,

Just about a year ago, we held our first election of Board Members for the newly formed Consulting Estimators Round Table, or CERT. For me at least, this was uncharted territory and a new adventure, my first in more than 20 years, and I had no idea what we would do, other than take those first baby steps. We had already spent almost a year sharing ideas about what we wanted the CERT to offer its member firms, as well as the industry we all serve. There was much to do and it seemed overwhelming.

Fortunately, the election provided a Board that proved to be some of the brightest, most dedicated people I have been honored to meet in a very long time. It was because of them, and the continuous guidance of Executive Director, Ed Walsh, the task at hand proved to be less daunting than expected because of that focus, dedication, diligence, and communication. Thanks to them and the support of all our members, I can proudly say that we accomplished more than I could have hoped for.

i) One year ago, we had 18 member firms; sadly, we lost 4 of those due to changes in their status. The good news is that we have added 21 new members for today’s total of 35 firms.

ii) We’ve had articles published in national publications Design Cost Data magazine and the AGC National e-newsletter.

iii) We’ve encouraged and promoted the networking and collaboration efforts, and had a number of members sharing work and opportunities.

iv) We have fined tuned the CERT Validation (VCEF) process, a peer-to-peer review of the member firms, which confirms that they among the best of the best. Nearly 33% of the member firms are now Validated.

v) We’ve actively worked on developing the Best Practices program which shares ideas among members through twice monthly conference calls, and are putting that information into a Best Practices Manual that will be made available to member firms along with regular updates.

vi) We’ve started to work on a format for a multi-purpose newsletter that will be used to share articles and information among the members, but also can be used either individually or as a group to keep your clients and/or the industry at large up to date on our activities.

vii) Finally, over the past several months, a strategic alliance between CERT and ASPE has been in discussion, and the formal agreement is expected to be signed at the conference in Philadelphia.

During the conference, your new Board of Directors will be sworn in, and I have every confidence in the continued dedication and leadership of the new team. Your new Board President is Dan Frondorf who I’m sure you’re all familiar with; I’m pleased to turn the keys over to Dan.

There is still much to do.

Every new organization will encounter bumps in the road, but with the active participation of all the members, and the continued focus and dedication of your elected officers, you will have the opportunity to be a part of CERT, the premier association strictly for the independent consulting estimator. Thank you all for your support and your confidence.

John Forgos, 2012-2013 CERT President

Feeding the Beast – Creating “Buzz” & Marketing your practice.

Feeding the Beast – Creating “Buzz” & Marketing your practice.

I learned about marketing many many years ago and thought I knew the rules, then the internet happened and all the rules changed.

Most folks in business struggle daily with the fundamentals of just doing what they firm claims to do- how then does the business keep moving forward and grow?

Is your business worth 30 minutes per week of marketing? Twenty four hours per year?

Ponder this- there are four basic ways a consultancy can market itself:

1) Referrals [partnering up as with CERT- you are already doing this]

2) Networking [working the room- if you aren’t doing this you need to]

3) Advertising [spending money- ugh- the least effective most often]

4) Feeding the beast [promotion, “virtual” networking, public relations and goodwill]

Ed Walsh will explore the concept of “Feeding the Beast” where “the beast” is your need to market the business. This call is open to all current full members of the CERT.

Are not yet a CERT member? Join now and don’t miss this important call!